Words Of Wisdom - from Referee Magazine

Words of Wisdom

From Past Referee Documents

Throughout history, experienced, time-tested veterans have passed down words of wisdom to younger apprentices. (Think of the American Indian culture with the great wise men sharing their wisdom with eager, hungry warriors.) In all walks of life, there are common phrases that veterans use. They are as symbolic as they are helpful.

Officiating is no different. There are a number of catch phrases that are handed down through officiating generations. They are aimed at newer officials but serve as guidelines for veterans as well.

Some are so common they've become cliché in the world of officiating. They are used over and over for a reason. They are a part of the foundation of successful officiating.

Take a look at the following quotes and the meaning behind them. There are probably countless variations to each phrase, but the core is essentially the same.

The phrases, a part of our officiating culture, are impossible to trace to a single source. The credit does not go to an individual; the credit is the longevity and application of the phrase itself.

"When you miss a call, the next call is crucial."

The first part of that phrase deals with acceptance. We are all going to miss calls. Accept it and learn from it. The competitor in us is constantly searching for that perfect game. We’re never going to find it. That’s the thrill of the "hunt." There are always things to improve on. In fact, if you think you’ve got this avocation down pat and there’s no getting better, move on to something else.

Perfection is what we strive for. When we make a mistake, it hurts a bit. It should. If mistakes have ceased getting to you, you’ve stopped learning and are just going through the motions.

There comes a time, however, when you’ve got to mentally let go of the mistake and move on. Learn from it, and then let it go immediately during the game. After a mistake, it’s how you handle it that separates the average officials from the great ones.

After you know you’ve made a mistake, think about the following things: Did your facial expression change from relaxed to tense? Did your body language suggest change from fluid to rigid? Are you quicker to respond harshly to normally innocuous comments? Did you flat-out miss the next call too because you were still thinking about the last one?

All those visible signs show you’ve mentally taken yourself out of the game because of one missed call. That negative cycle has a snowball effect. One bad call can lead to another – and another – if you’re unable to let it go.

Remember your mistake enough to not make the same mistake twice in that game. Let it go enough to get through the game. Revisit the mistake after the game and examine why it happened and how it can be prevented in the future.

"Silence can never be misquoted."

That phrase seemingly has been around forever. In its simplest form it means, "Keep your mouth shut."

Many crucial errors have nothing to do with judgment calls or rules. They have to do with how we handle people. Communicate effectively and you’re a perceived good official. On the other hand you can know the rules inside and out, have the most, crisp signals and always be in the right spot, but if your mouth is in overdrive, you’re likely to fail.

We’re constantly being verbally challenged. Our first step is to determine if a comment needs a response. Many comments from coaches and players do not even need a response. Don’t get into a running dialogue. If a question needs to be answered, answer it briefly. If a bad comment needs to be dealt with, address the offender professionally.

Don’t let your mouth end your career. Don’t think that can happen? Ask the ref how he likes sitting at home on game days after he swore at a coach and player.

"Never forget where you came from. You’re going to see the same people on the way down as you saw on the way up."

The words "climbing the ladder" are often used in officiating. It’s ironic that when we use those words, we’re always thinking of climbing up the ladder. Climbing down is rarely considered.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have risen to a high level of officiating – or aspire to get there – don’t forget about all the people who helped you get there. No one can make it on their own in officiating. Someone along the way gave you good advice, opened a door for you and gave you a chance to succeed.

If you’ve climbed, you’re going to come down. Even the best aren’t the best forever. Enjoy it while you can, but better yet, enjoy the journey. Learn something from everyone you meet at every level. Take the time to give back to officiating by helping someone else. This can be a lonely business if you get a selfish reputation. The most successful officials breed success in other officials. Become a "great wise man" in officiating and help the "eager, hungry warriors." You and officiating will be better for it.